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Monday, 1 December 1986
Page: 3054


Senator COLEMAN —I ask whether the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce has seen a report in today's Australian Financial Review on comments made by the chief economist of the Metal Trades Industry Association, Dr Clive Edwards, about new trading opportunities now open to Australian business in the Asian-Pacific region, including those in Japan. Does the Minister agree with Dr Edwards that `Government, business and unions in Australia are preoccupied with the various problems faced by the nation'? Does the Minister agree that Australia is well placed to participate in the opportunities which are emerging in the Asian-Pacific region?


Senator BUTTON —I have seen a reference to that article and the remarks of Dr Edwards. I think it is true that in the past there has been considerable introspective concentration on problems in Australia rather than on opportunities. There are and will be substantial trade opportunities in the Asian-Pacific region and that is in large part due to the increased competitiveness of Australian manufacturing industry. These matters were discussed at some length during the recent investment mission to Japan and I am sure there will be opportunities in conjunction with Japanese companies for Australian manufacturers, particularly engineering companies. At this time I am unable to comment further than that on the question which Senator Coleman has addressed to me.